Update: Two Fatalities in Wednesday House Fire

CAMDEN — A Wednesday structure fire in Camden resulted in the deaths of two people.

The Camden Fire Department was dispatched at 2:18 p.m. Wednesday afternoon (August 23) to a reported residential fire with possibly trapped victims in the 100 block of Fairview Road SE. Firefighters arrived on scene within three minutes — at 2:21 p.m. — finding heavy fire and smoke throughout the structure.

Search and rescue efforts began immediately with firefighters entering the residence through a bedroom window, where an 84-year-old female victim was located. She was removed from the structure, and CPR and other life-saving measures were started by firefighters on scene. This victim was transported by ambulance to Ouachita County Medical Center, where she was later pronounced dead. Upon reentering the structure to continue searching, the second victim, a 74-year-old male, was also located. This victim was pronounced dead on scene by the Ouachita County Coroner’s Office.

After a fire department investigation into the origin and cause of the fire, it was determined that the fire was accidental in nature, starting in the back bedroom of the home. Several extension cords were found with evidence of arcing and fusing. These extension cords were powering multiple appliances, including an air conditioner, which caused these cords to overheat and fail, igniting clothes and other household materials in the vicinity.

A total of 18 firefighters responded to the incident. Weather conditions were hot and humid at the time of the incident, with temperatures up to 102 degrees, and heat indexes reaching 117 degrees. Four were treated on scene for heat exhaustion.

The Camden Fire Department reminds the public that extension cords are designed for temporary use only, and should never be used to connect major appliances or other heavy electrical loads, as this can lead to overheating of the cord and connected equipment, increasing the risk of fire and electrical shock. When extension cords are used, they should not be run through walls, windows, doors, ceilings, or floors, and never covered with carpets, rugs, clothes, or other materials.

In addition, make sure you have working smoke alarms throughout your home or business. Nationwide, approximately 60% of fire deaths happen in homes without working smoke alarms.